Tag Archives: I Ching

The Phoenix Response

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In a recent post, Choose Life II, I wrote:

I was increasingly motivated by dread of facing a future based on past experience. Subconsciously, I had succumbed to a death sentence suggested by people far too “nice” to kill me outright, but all too capable of driving me to slow suicide.

Since then, going a few years back in my notebooks, I found my response to a scary conversation. At least ten years ago, we were in a car, on the way home from running an errand as I recall. The driver was flawlessly made up, as usual. She was wrapped in an ankle-length, black fax-fur coat.

I gently suggested in a general way (nothing personal, of course), that sometimes, surely unintentionally, some people push those they can’t control to self-destruction.

She shook her head, No. It was definitely intentional, she objected.

Horrified, I searched my mind for the right survival response. (My belief in reincarnation rules out suicide. At best, unfinished business would just reappear.)

As the issue continued to come up, here is the solution recorded in notebooks over the years. Whenever circumstances or people push me to suicide, I will die – but only to be reborn in this lifetime, over and over, each time better than before.

I called it The Phoenix Response.

I associated this intentional positive decision with the death and resurrection of Christ, whose archetypal pattern represents a possibility for each of us, at any time, as a matter of personal choice, commitment and dedicated follow-through.

This was, in part, the thinking behind the following essay from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide. I include it below for the benefit of those who, especially given the pressures of our “interesting” time in history, may be pondering similar choices.

phoenix b&w

ESSAY 2. DEATH

Quotes

merging

Patricia E. West, Two Sides of a Coin:Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change

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Dying patients went through the five stages, but then after “we have done all the work we were sent to Earth to do, we are allowed to shed our body, which imprisons our soul like a cocoon encloses the future butterfly,” and … well, then a person had the greatest experience of his life. — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, The Wheel of Life

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Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished.

If you’re alive, it isn’t.

— Richard Bach, Illusions

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Some day, maybe, there will exist a well-informed, well-considered, and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit; for such mutilation undercuts the life principle of trust. — Erik Erikson, quoted by Jonathan Kozol in Death at an Early Age

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THE FRONT

Webster’s definition of death is the act or fact of dying — the permanent ending of all life in a person, animal or plant. Personified, death is pictured as the grim reaper, a hunch-backed, black-robed skeleton wielding a scythe. The term refers to extinction, as in the death of hope.

These definitions, however, represent an extreme cultural bias with important effects on behavior. They reflect the materialistic belief that the physical is all there is. When the body fails, there is nothing else. There is no essence which survives to travel on.

The I Ching embodies a more inclusive, comprehensive view. Like the learned amongst most ancient cultures, Chinese sages regarded birth and death as natural changes, complementary stages of an ongoing, cyclical life process.

Sages continue to regard death not as extinction, but the culmination of a winter season most wisely spent preparing for the coming spring. They teach that a soul, having learned the lessons and completed the work of one life cycle, separates from its used up shell. Once the spirit moves on, the shell collapses. The life essence, however, simply migrates, possibly to take on another form.

Meditation practices are instrumental in reconnecting the alienated rational mind with the life principle, restoring trust. They can prepare advanced souls to depart the physical form consciously at the auspicious time of their choosing. They also induce the changes of heart and mind that the Bible alludes to as rebirth. To be born again isn’t necessarily an emotional self-deception. Technically, from I Ching perspective, it’s very possible.

As described by healer/teacher/author Barbara Ann Brennan, total transformation and rebirth can also take place within the same body. She describes spending two years of prayer and intense discipline. By the end of that time, as a result of her efforts, every aspect of her life had changed for the better.

Going through stages similar to those described by Kübler-Ross, she released her old life, so that new attitudes, better relationships, and a significantly more satisfying lifestyle replaced that which had been outgrown and put away.

Country music star Naomi Judd, another example, refused to accept the death sentence placed on her by a short-sighted medical establishment. Instead, she chose to accept her illness as a challenge and blessing in disguise, taking the self-responsibility to restore her health.

With a combination of faith and true grit, Naomi educated herself in a broad spectrum of healing arts traditions and succeeded in regenerating herself from the inside out. She not only survived, but became healthy enough to endure the rigors of another music tour. She called it “The Power to Change,” using it as a platform for urging fans to rise to the challenge of change as she had.

THE BACK

Fear is the natural outcome of limited materialistic beliefs equating the end of physical life with total extinction. Those who experience the True Self as immortal and indestructible are not plagued by fear of mortality. No doubt the courage and solace which sustained Socrates as he calmly accepted his death sentence — not as an escape, but an affirmation of principle — came from the depth of his soul awareness.

Permanent extinction, however, is possible. Real death is not dissolution of a temporary form, but the annihilation of the soul itself. According to learned traditions, a soul beyond redemption by its own repeated wrong choices can be extinguished forever. Even the thought is cause for horror, powerful incentive to make right choices.

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What IS Your Calling

Angel Calling

A timely message from Charles Caro, a senior LinkedIn expert who was most generous with his knowledge when I was a social media newbee, sparked this post. He wrote:

Patricia, You are on my list of the top people I want to contact related to my new book titled “Job Seeker’s Faithful Guide” . . . The book is targeted to job seekers wanting a resource to sustain themselves mentally and spiritually during their job search journey.

I was hoping you would share information on my new book with your connections either by message or simply sharing my posted Pulse article.

I immediately emailed back congratulating him: You’ve found an important blind spot in the job-seeking canon, and trust you’ve filled it admirably.

And forthwith posted this update:

I highly recommend Charles Caro’s work. I owe him a debt of gratitude which I’m very glad to repay in any small way possible. Please see https://lnkd.in/bX–TjH.

After further thought, I added:

You’ve got me thinking. These are times that test us all, serving to separate the wheat from chaff — those who will hear and survive, from those who have hardened themselves and will thus fall by the wayside. Perhaps I will write a post to rethinkingsurvival.com to this end that mentions your book as its trigger. Your words could well make a positive difference to those who choose to “endure to the end.”

Now where was the perfect timing – the synchronicity – in this exchange? His job-search approach touched on a burning question of my own, a follow-up to my last post confirming the personal decision to endure, Choose LIFE II.

Although the basic decision was made, I was finding it not sufficient. I was filled with grave doubts about the future. As the vitally urgent next step, I had just journaled my burning question as an I Ching query. “Why am I still Here? What is My Calling?”

A review of past LinkedIn correspondence underscored my discouragement. In a professional environment where carving niches is the norm, resonance with my boundary-spanner idea was sparse to nil.

In our earliest exchanges, what I asked Charles was how to connect with like-minded thinkers. By this I meant interdisciplinary innovators who span and link professional disciplines (sciences, religions, and philosophies) by recognizing the universal source that underlies and sustains all life, on every corner of the globe. This was the thought behind illustrating Einstein’s quote in Rethinking Survival.

circle compass of compassion

As good fortune would have it, Charles himself is a boundary-spanner, demonstrated by his ability to recognize the relevance of Chinese wisdom to his Christian worldview. As a practicing Christian, his connections support his approach. For example, he wrote:

Timothy Tobin, who is one of my 1st level connections, lives in Peoria, Illinois where Caterpillar has cut 30,000 employees of the past couple years. Tim has predicted I will sell a million copies in a year. He has let his wife know she can stock the book in their Church bookstore.

In turn, the Life Wheel which is equally compatible with ancient yogic scriptures and modern physics is also compatible with a profound reverence for Christ.

Although coming from very different traditions, what we share in common is a recognition of basic human concerns. For example, my published work focuses on creating awareness of the natural laws of change as well as their relationship to their unchanging source. In describing his new book, Charles choses to call change “transition.”

The “Job Seeker’s Faithful Guide” targets everybody involved in a career transition regardless whether they are unemployed, underemployed, seeking a new opportunity or launching a new business on their own. 

So later I added this observation:

I find repeatedly when researching that two out of three levels of experience are covered — the mental and physical (“think” as in strategize and action/behavior), but the central, driving core — which depends on hearing (“knowing,” trusting, believing in the creative source) is overlooked.

Now, as to the answer to my query, the main text I consulted to examine the implications of my answer was the Jack Balkin version of the I Ching (Book of Change).

Balkin is another, formidable boundary-spanner. As underscored by his title choice, The Laws of Change, Balkin is Knight Professor of Constitutional LAW and the First Amendment at Yale Law School. (As an aside, I urged him to write on a question that fascinates me: the relevance of the Book of Change to Constitutional Law. Sadly, he responded that other work is prohibitive – for the time being.)

Like every other version, being the product of a human mind, this version is limited by the constraints of duality. Yet it is a brilliant contribution to the field and clearly a labor of love. While some might complain that he lacks the traditional linguistic and/or yogic background which Asian translators bring to the subject, in an intuitive way (perhaps exactly for that reason), his understanding rings true.

Be that as it may, to repeat, I asked, “What is My Calling?” In my case, the I Ching Answer was Hexagram 30, Li (double Fire), with no changing lines. Balkin translates Li as RADIANCE, and lists these Key Words:

The Clinging; Interdependence; Synergy; Understanding connections and interdependencies; Fire; Brilliance; Clarity; Shedding Light on Things; Enlightenment

Ah. I instantly recognized the relevance to my boundary-spanner quest.

The text explains:

The two great themes of Li are enlightenment and interdependence. Fire sheds light on everything as its radiance extends outward; but it burns brightly only as long as it has fuel to draw on. As long as the fuel lasts, the fire lasts. Whatever gives light, clarifies, and enlightens depends on something else to which it clings, something whose persistence and perseverance allows the light to shine.

My intuitive response clicked on the image of the burning bush of Exodus, from which the voice of God called out to Moses.

Burning Bush image

Balkin continues, applying these themes to relationships:

So it is with human life. The life of human beings is not free and independent. It is conditioned on circumstances, and, in particular, other human beings. If you wish to gain clarity in your life, you must understand who and what you depend on, and who and what depends on you.

Balkin advises:

Enlightenment means accepting the world for what it is, recognizing one’s connection to others, and taking care of what needs to be taken care of. This is the path to clarity and peace. Acceptance does not mean pessimistic resignation. It means facing up to the facts. Only when we can accept the world can we begin to work with it to improve it and our situation within it.

Relevant to job seekers attached to past successes (or failures), he admonishes:

Do not cling to the past, for it is gone and it will not return. Accept change. Be open-minded and adaptable. Don’t bemoan your fate. Consider how you can change things for the better, given the situation you now face. Nurture others and you will nurture yourself.

His summary states:

Fire is an apt symbol of enlightenment because the power of truth is increased when it spreads to other minds. One candle lights another, and the amount of illumination is doubled without anyone’s light being diminished. For this reason, superior people do not hoard their knowledge or their wisdom, but share it with others who are willing to accept it. In this way enlightenment eventually can reach “to the four corners of the world.”

Food for thought indeed. What do you make of it?

And, as I continue with my own reflections, I encourage you to ask your Self, what is YOUR calling?

Choose LIFE II

body-mind-spirit

Last fall’s mystery illness became a strict teacher, a blessing in disguise. It dramatically reinforced my awareness of the mutually dependent relationship between brain and gut long recognized by Asian healing traditions.

As modern medical research documents, mental distress manifests as a myriad of gut-spawned diseases – Crone’s disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and eventually cancers, to name but a few.

Conversely, the broad spectrum of diseases arising in the gut spawn a host of mental illnesses – not only depression, memory loss, dementia and schizophrenia, but autism and A.D.H.D, for example.

The hopeful application is this. Correctly steered, interventions on either side of the gut-psychology continuum positively affects the other. The relationship spans an infinite loop. So wherever one starts, given time and effort, it’s possible to complete the cycle, eventually restoring balance and good health.

Follow along if you like and I’ll connect the dots that led to this conclusion.

It started with asking WHY. Medical people failed to correctly diagnosis what went wrong. The ER physician (nice lady) jumped to the convenient assumption that, given my demographics, a lower tract infection was the problem. Antibiotics would make symptoms go away.

When the first round of drugs didn’t help, instead of questioning the assumption, the local nurse practitioner prescribed a battery of (expensive!) different antibiotics over following months – in increasingly stronger doses – each with its “interesting” side effects.

The duration of this “illness” was cause for some serious introspection on my part. Certainly the WHY had a mental origin. Stern teacher that LIFE is, I came to accept that I wasn’t going to be let off the hook until I came clean with myself. Release demanded self-honesty.

What I unburied was a death wish of sorts. It wasn’t that I wanted to be gone, so much as that negative suggestions from false friends absorbed over the years had worn me down to the point of critical mass.

I was increasingly motivated by dread of facing a future based on past experience. Subconsciously, I had succumbed to a death sentence suggested by people far too “nice” to kill me outright, but all too capable of driving me to slow suicide.

LIFE had sounded a warning alarm to bring me back to my Self.

Something had to change. It started with a stark decision. A conscious commitment to LIFE, whatever it takes. I wrote a confirming article, Choose Life.

Once recognition and the decision were made, LIFE responded most generously. The help and information needed to support my choice appeared from several directions.

The next step was for me to ask HOW do I return to health? And how do I change my attitudes and behavior to make my personal future different and better from the past?

Critically important information was found in Susan Forward’s Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You.

I was instantly inspired to borrow the book from the library after reading a top-ranked review of the book which starts:

This book does a very clear job of defining emotional blackmail so you can begin to easily spot emotional blackmailers in your life. It then concludes with telling you specifically how to deal with emotional blackmail, that is, how to keep your energy, resources, and sometimes your very soul, from being stolen by them.

WOW. I could relate to that!

She writes, At the heart of any kind of blackmail is one basic threat, which can be expressed in many different ways: If you don’t behave the way I want you to, you will suffer.

Forward explains:

Manipulators work hard to deny, obscure, camouflage, prettify, excuse, rationalize, disguise, HIDE what they are doing. They make it hard, if not impossible, to see HOW they’re manipulating us. They lay down a thick FOG that obscures their actions.

FOG is an acronym that stands for the psychological warfare tactics used against targets: Fear, Obligation and Guilt.

This information is reinforced by Harriet Braiker in Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life:

People who manipulate are often so hard to spot. They become your friend and then find ways to have their way with you. . .

A reviewer summarizes:

You can’t reason with a manipulator because of their insecurities but you can reason with your own insecurities; and best of all are the practical ways you can change your behavior to take back the power.

This book teaches you to get up, learn what you did wrong and what you should have done, and even better how not to repeat the same mistakes.

There’s also a warning given from experience:

I’ve put an end to so much manipulation in my life. It takes the wind right out of the manipulator’s sails. The book is right…the manipulator will blow really hard, so prepare yourself; it’s going to get stormy.

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Another fortunate form of help followed from my decision to seek medical advice elsewhere. An intern at the UW kindly saw me on short notice. Intrigued by my situation, she brought in her mentor. Together, after reviewing the history of lab results, they confirmed that the initial diagnosis wasn’t right. The medications hurt more than helped.

Although I knew enough to eat yogurt to offset the effect of antibiotics, to repair the damage done by antibiotics they recommended taking pharmaceutical probiotics as well. This opened the door to a whole new world of science and healing.

Probiotics for Dummies, for example, includes a useful section on the brain-gut connection.

Medical researchers have long known that stress depresses immune function, but only recently have they linked stress to changes in gut bacteria.

The medical community’s interest in probiotics was initially sparked by the seminal work on GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) published by researcher Natasha Campbell-McBride.

In Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression and Schizophrenia, she notes that Western medicine has long acknowledged the brain-gut connection:

The father of modern psychiatry, French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel (17-45-1828), after working with mental patients for many years, concluded in 1807: “The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.”

Interestingly, she uses the same word, FOG, when in describing the mental-emotional relief experienced as the intestines heal by using probiotics to restore balance. “It is as if the fog lifts.” Ahh!

But, like cutting through the psychological FOG, cleaning out the gut doesn’t happen over night, or without difficulties. Campbell-McBride warns things often seem to get worse before they get better. Detox is a necessary but challenging middle step along the road that leads from here and there. So, again, “prepare yourself; it’s going to get stormy.”

There are important parallels between the so-called Leaky Gut Syndrome and psychological distress. In the first case, weakened intestines become permeable. Toxins and undigested food leak out and are circulated by the blood stream throughout the entire body, poisoning other internal organs – including the brain.

Similarly, psychological defenses can also be worn down and compromised, sometimes due to “second-hand stress.” In this case, when protective borders between self and others break down, toxic influences from outside undermine mental-emotional balance. Others’ fears, rage and general unhappiness poison the unprotected mind. Toxic people preoccupied with their own wants and personal dramas, even when unintentionally, do great harm.

Interestingly, the GAPS/probiotics approach is highly compatible with the wisdom of Asian healers. Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, carefully maps the gut-psychology connection. They describe the dynamics of what is called “the abdominal brain.” The following illustration captures thousands of years of wisdom in a single picture.

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According to Mantak Chia, when the intestine becomes congested, it cannot perform its physiological functions. Though you may eat well, you may be under nourished.

As he explains, each of the organs is correlated with one of the five elements. In turn, each is associated with specific positive or negative emotions:

All negative emotions are expressed in the small intestine by contraction and circumvolutions, Anger contracts the right side of the intestine near the liver. Worry affects the upper left side near the spleen. Impatience and anxiety affect the top. Sadness affects both lower lateral sides. Fear affects the deeper and lower abdominal areas.

As the I Ching instructs, the same dynamics repeat on every scale of magnitude, from cellular to universal. So many hints from sciences both ancient and modern could be taken in many directions. They apply to relationships on a personal level, to community dynamics, and governance. But those will be subject of posts yet to follow.

For starters, I’ll offer just one hint.

Campbell-McBride uses the image of a medieval fortress under attack to describe the breakdown of  defenses that result in auto-immune diseases. It parallels the Interleukin II research described earlier, where the grad students saw their research on pediatric leukemia in terms of a war between good and evil.

When confusions in gut mirror confusions of the mind – when the difference between friend and enemy is fogged — anabolic (building up) and catabolic (breaking down) functions are thrown off balance. The body  is fooled into turning against itself in self-destructive ways.

In conclusion, however, a key component overlooked in the popular gut-psychology formula must be noted. Spirit — that third, underlying, unifying and overriding component of the e = mc2 equation – plays a deciding role in the outcome of the LIFE versus death struggle to survive.

It is said that “The mind will play any tune you tell it to play.”

choose wisely

So – who is it that quietly instructs the mind which tune to choose?

LIFE itself, the soul’s advocate, is the tie-breaker that tips the balance.

Here, I allow Mantak Chia to have the final word. He describes the discipline of cultivating chi – the subtle energy that links mind and body — and the end goal of the path to which all endeavors ultimately lead: 

  • If one wishes to be a healer, success depends upon the ability to channel energy through the hands.
  • If one wishes to be an athlete, success depends upon the ability to convert energy into strength and endurance.
  • If one wishes to be free of negative influences, success depends upon the ability to transform negative energy into positive energy.
  • One who seeks enlightenment is searching for the highest source of all energy.

 

I write in hopes that you will find this saga helpful. If you relate, I invite you to apply your imagination and follow wherever the subject leads you.

To your health!

Pray for Lee

DNA 1

I get it. It’s early August. Most of us are on summer vacation now. It’s not the time to be bothered by “serious stuff.”

But sometimes, serious stuff won’t wait.

Here, we’re been dealing with escalating medical emergencies. They have dire implications for Lee, for those who care for him, and yes – for the rest of us, too.

Please bear with me. I’ll connect the dots for you.

It started a few months ago with sleepless nights that left him too weary to work during the day. Pain of unknown origin gave Lee no rest.

He lost his appetite. Lost weight.

It seemed like a flare up of rheumatoid arthritis. So the doctors thought. But then came chest pains. Strong enough for an urgent call to 911. Even after an ambulance trip to the hospital in Baraboo and several hours in the emergency room, he continued to experience episodes of severe chest pain no one could explain.

Local doctors consulted together, then contacted Lee’s Madison specialist. It was agreed to transport him via ambulance to the UW-Madison Hospital for a cardiac cath procedure.

To make a long, convoluted story short, two days later, doctors finally agreed on a diagnosis. Lyme’s disease.

I’d heard about it, of course. But didn’t know that much about it. So, while waiting for him to be discharged, I did some research.

I found an excellent article that explains the science and history of Lyme’s. It’s a scary bad plague-like affliction of apparently epidemic proportions, though for some mysterious reason, it’s given little media attention. According to arizonaadvancedmedicine.com:

  • The organism responsible for Lyme disease was identified in 1981 by Dr. Willy Burgdorfer, and named Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi), after its discoverer. It is similar in shape to the spirochete Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis, the scourge.
  • Mankind’s earlier experience with a disease caused by a spirochete was syphilis, the scourge of Europe for hundreds of years. Syphilis was called “the Great Imitator” because its symptoms mimicked so many other diseases. The same is true with Lyme.
  • Lyme disease presents a host of challenges. Once the corkscrew-shaped spirochetes enter the bloodstream, they can cause a wide range of constitutional, musculoskeletal, and neurological symptoms.
  • New York pathologist Dr. Alan MacDonald found B. burgdorferi DNA in 1986 in seven out of ten autopsy samples from the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. MacDonald was also the first to document B. burgdorferi in fetal tissue, meaning the infection passes from mother to child in the womb.
  • The number of Lyme disease cases in the United States has doubled since 1991. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are nearly 325,000 new cases each year – making Lyme disease an epidemic larger than AIDS, West Nile Virus, and Avian Flu combined.

Lyme’s hides itself inside cysts so the immune system can’t find it. It also mutates, making it especially difficult to detect and treat.

In short, it’s one sneaky, sinister bugger.

Reading on Lyme’s resonated with memories of working as an assistant in the UW Hospital’s Department of Pediatric Oncology in the 1990s. Pediatric leukemia was the villain. An international team of research scientists was studying the use of Interleukin II to stimulate the body’s own immune system (T-cells to be exact) to heal this cancer.

Because I asked, one dedicated researcher described what she recognized as the deep, spiritual implications of her work. Her eyes radiated intense conviction as she described the war between good and evil going on at a cellular level. She described the insidious mechanisms of the disease and the doctors’ emotional battle to save afflicted children from pain and sure death.

That experience brought up many of the same questions I have now. Namely, why don’t practitioners of different medical sciences pool their information? Each has a significant piece, but only a partial piece of the larger puzzle. If a boundary spanner could bridge the gaps and put the pieces of the mosaic together, miracles would become possible.

I’m thinking specifically of the benefits attributed to the practice of Tai Chi and Chi Kung (QiGong). Both these approaches to healing-in-motion are based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, which in turn depends on the science encoded in the Book of Change, the I Ching.

Some preliminary work in this direction has already been done. For example, medical research documents that Tai Chi practice stimulates T-cells. In fact, this medical-martial arts discipline achieves what the researchers hoped to achieve with drugs. It stimulates the body’s immune system to protect against and reverse damage done to DNA.

Now here’s a secret hiding in plain sight. I Ching science has been correlated with DNA science. The ancients experienced through meditation what scientists much later discovered through painstaking empirical research. There is no conflict between conclusions, only many roads leading to the same knowledge.

One important difference between the medical and Tai Chi approach to healing, however, is its availability. Tai Chi has long been a family tradition passed on through the generations. It’s slowly becoming available in the West as well. But it requires an attitude of self-responsibility and diligence to practice these methods.

In contrast, drugs can be passively ingested with no intelligent participation on the part of those afflicted. Many drugs, however, have unforeseen and unwelcome side effects. In addition, some are prohibitively expensive, and for many, inaccessible.

I like to call Tai Chi the “poor man’s genome therapy.” The beauty of it is, that it hardly matters how you have become off balance or what symptoms you’re experiencing. Diligent practice restores health. It would seem that especially in a case like Lyme’s, where the symptoms are hard to detect, tend to mutate, and to take multiple forms, this universal solution is uniquely appropriate.

As it happens, I recently found a treasure in books by Jou, Tsung Hwa. The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan is exactly what I would love to share with Lee. The introduction begins:

I was a math teacher who had published about thirty books on mathematics in Chinese. In 1964 at the age of forty-seven, I became very ill with an enlarged heart and a gastroptosis, because of years of hard work and vigorous schedules. My doctor told me that my condition was incurable using available medication.

At the same time, however, one of his friends told him about Tai Chi Chuan and introduced Dr. Jou to a teacher. He continues:

At first, I had only enough strength to practice a half hour at a time. In only two weeks, my appetite improved and the frequency and severity of my stomach pain lessened. In three years my stomach was completely healed. In five years, my heart returned to normal, and I regained total good health without the use of drugs.

This good experience led to an interest in the Book of Change. In the introduction to his version,  The Tao of I Ching, Dr. Jou writes:

Since the I Ching was first translated into German and other languages, it has awakened great interest and fascinated countless people. Yet, I believe this interest is only a fraction of the attention it deserves when it is used in the way created to be used.

His next words made me jump for joy. I could not agree more:

Remember, this is not a book on Chinese culture or philosophy. This is a book about things no more exclusively Chinese than a lake, a person or the sky.

On a hunch just now, I googled “Tai Chi & Lyme’s Disease” and found this: Nothing is Incurable! In this case, the author is describing his experience with QiGong, the precursor and close relative of Tai Chi.

But why, then, am I conflicted about offering this extraordinarily hopeful approach to healing Lee’s Lyme’s disease?

Because he thinks it’s rubbish. Has an intense aversion against it, probably the result being educated in Catholic schools compounded with an aversion to what he dismisses as “New Age bullshit.”

Well, fortunately for me, I haven’t allowed centuries of historical atrocities committed in the name of the New Testament to alienate me from the teachings of Christ. Now, I can only hope that likewise, he will see fit to give this treasure the benefit of the doubt.

I pray for Lee. I pray that he be restored to health. Not only because as a repository of training, information and experience, he is irreplaceable. (He owes it to the rest of us to get well!!!) But also because this disease can be changed into a teacher and opportunity, if he can accept it as such.

My dearest hope is that, like Dr. Jou, when faced with dire medical circumstances, Lee’s eyes and heart will open to this healing alternative to drugs. May he be like the greatest doubter changed in a flash to become greatest advocate, a Saul become Paul, if you will.

I know he has the integrity, intelligence and will power to take responsibility for his healing and make this science in all its aspects his own. In turn, his example serve to might open Lyme’s researchers minds to alternative ways of erradicating B. burgdorferi DNA. This, in turn, might open doors of help for others suffering from this dreadful plague.

I pray for Lee for many reasons. Please pray for him as well. Your prayers will certainly speed his healing. When healed, he will most definitely become a helper and healer to you and yours in ways too many to count.

Blessings and thanks to all who read this.

I’m Writing To . . .

 

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Like magic, hints about the baby steps to take next have been coming from all directions.

Today, I’m writing in answer to a comment made on Two Out of Three Isn’t Enough:

Hi Patricia, I enjoy your writing style. That said, one must write with a target audience in mind; at least commercially. Otherwise you are just writing for yourself.

For a split second, I went on the defensive.

What??!! Just mental masturbation? Focus on making money?

This particular LinkedIn connection has followed my posts from the beginning. He should know me better by now.

To state once more what I’ve repeatedly said, I write because — like so many men and women – my lonely, early years were haunted by unspeakable specters of suicide and abuses of power. If what helped save me could, paid forward, make a difference in even one life, it would, for me, be enough.

To save one life is to save the world entire.” This is the mantra that keeps me going late nights, after daily tasks are completed, even when my physical body urgently wants rest.

Though surely not intended, what “a target audience” conjures in my mind is the image of armed game hunters dressed in orange and camo garb, scouting for animals to snuff the life out of and eat for dinner.

Not that I haven’t given conventional writers’ wisdom – “know your audience” – some thought, thank you anyway. I have. A lot, in fact.

Here’s part of the problem. The Life Wheel is universal. It offers a scientific underpinning to support humanistic calls to live in peace. As written in Sages and Scientists Can Agree on This, it has the potential to restore awareness of the common humanity everyone everywhere shares in common.

On the opposite, shadow side, today’s lack of a universally accepted, complete and accurate paradigm answers the plaintive question, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Limiting, misleading paradigms are a root cause of widespread conflict and suffering in today’s dangerously volatile world.

Everyone is fascinated by both sides of change. On the one hand, we yearn for positive improvements. On the other, we dread the unknown. That’s because no one taught us the survival basics in school. We never learned how the dynamics of duality drive relationships in the world. We don’t know how to balance yin-yang opposites to maintain stability, first within, then without.

So we remain conflicted – on all levels. Ambivalent. Paralyzed. In fact, lack of survival basics has become our Achilles Heel – our fatal flaw.

Change is a word on the lips of CEOs, politicians, radicals, therapists, pastors everywhere. All use it. But very few have an in-depth understanding of what it’s about, much less have the methods and means to act as effective agents of positive change.

That’s one reason why I have a problem with niche thinking. The current trend of carving humanity into smaller and smaller, mutually exclusive either/or interest groups is a symptom of the fragmented, isolating thinking we desperately need to overcome. . . . which the Life Wheel has the potential to heal.

Fortunately, however, this coin has a flip side too. Being universal, the Life Wheel can be brought to life – animated and applied to illumine each and very tiny corner niche.

So, I’ve done my bestest to go with the flow of common wisdom.

For example, for a time I focused on MILLENNIALS. Being tech savvy, I thought, they are especially well qualified to resonate with the digital technology of the Book of Change — The I Ching. Further, they’re the ones most disillusioned of the “American dream.” Being less invested than their elders in prevailing, dysfunctional paradigms, I thought they would “get it.”

In When the Lights Go Out, Who Will Millennials Call? I wrote what still reads to me like a wake-up tour de force.

I continued with Good News and Bad News for Millenials.

Did any one get it? What more can I say? (Perhaps, I sometimes think, someone else might say it differently and better.)

Nevertheless, I tried again, suggesting what could have been billion dollar game and app ideas in An Inner Compass App for Millennials

Response? Instant contact from a venture capitalist. He wanted to pick my brain; tried to coerce me into signing a non-competition agreement that would, in effect, block further blogging. So sorry. No can do. (Reminded me of Hannibal’s words, “When the lamb cries, the wolf comes. But not to help.”)

Next, in frustration over the foolishness of a self-proclaimed millennial leader who didn’t get it whatsoever, I wrote What the Generations Share in Common.

So, moving on to other audiences.

The I Ching has been the primary decision-making tool used by LEADERS in every walk of life – government, military, monastic, medical, mercantile . . you name it . . . for thousands of years.

So I applied the Life Wheel, as the next generation Book of Change, to address a host of leaderships issues. For example, in response to a direct question, I wrote How Bad People Become Leaders; and then Savvy Leaders Go with the Flow.

In True Leaders Trust Their Inner Compass to Over Come Confusion, I introduced the Life Wheel to Authentic Leaders who already accept the importance of following their North Star.

In The Positive Paradigm Handbook: Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change, I’ve shown how THERAPISTS and SELF-HEALERS can turn the Life Wheel into a diagnostic and a decision-making tool. I have a special fondness for Jungian analysts, and said so in Therapists as Positive Change Agents.

For those who chose to frame their truth in the language of PHILOSOPHY, I wrote Change the Rules of the Knowledge Game. Here I focused the Life Wheel on the field of epistemology – the (politically charged) study of who can know what, and how.

The list goes on.

But . . . I still ask myself, how does one “target” the diverse and widely scattered audience of readers who hide painful dark secrets under the facade of their ordinary lives as housewives, students, soldiers, athletes, priests, poets, politicians, CEOs, entrepreneurs and on and on. . . ?

How does one “target” the hidden army of loved ones so poorly equipped to win the war to rescue sons, daughters and spouses from quiet desperation?

How does one effectively extend compassionate hope to the multitude of isolated, face-saving power abusers in high office — addicts driven by psychological forces outside their conscious awareness, rendered taboo by current dysfunctional paradigms.

How do I tell all of them, that like me, with the I Ching as a confidential best friend, they would find out that they are never, ever truly alone. And that everyone can choose to change for the better.

With its wisdom and support (explain its magic as you will), I have brought myself back from every temptation – from hated, the impulse to revenge, from self-pity and despair.

With its help, I’ve gleaned the benefit of lessons to be learned from adversity.

It has inspired me, instead reacting against abuse and succumbing to the danger of becoming an abuser myself, to live and to serve as a healing beacon to others.

What follows is a personal example of desperation and life-saving help excerpted from Rethinking Survival:

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The scriptures were inspiring. [the swami] cynically perverted them. A pundit disciple based in Minneapolis initiated gullible students in the rituals of guru worship. This aristocratic charmer held Western seekers in contempt and dummed the teachings down.

The powers of this smooth, flamboyant “holy man” were foreign to Western sensibilities. He flaunted a repertoire of magic tricks. He could change blood flow in his feet. He read minds and hypnotized students.

He reportedly bilked American students out of thousands of dollars for nonexistent hospitals in India.

By his own admission, disciples in India would have burned his ashram to the ground had they known he was habitually performing sexual tantra (rape) on unsuspecting American women. . . .

At his ashram in Rishikesh, India, three women he’d seduced got together and traded information. We realized none of us was a “special exception” to his vow of celibacy.

When we blew the whistle, he flipped out. Tantric teachings, he raged, were sacred teachings. Exposing them would damn us forever. We were terrified and backed down.

To the detriment of other relationships, I obeyed his command, “Keep still!!”

Covering his backside, the swami informed his psychologist henchmen that I was “mentally disturbed.” Protecting vested interests in their careers, they treated me as if I were crazy.

It took years to get over the pain, anger and confusion caused by their betrayals.

But I healed. I used yogic introspection to get over it mentally. To repair emotional damage, I turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine. For solace and hope, I looked to the New Testament.

But my best friend and advisor throughout was The Book of Change. I didn’t dare talk with people who knew the swami. They would have turned against me, not helped.

His powers were outside the experience of university-trained therapists. There were no qualified professionals to turn to.

Confiding in family was out of the question. If I went to them with one problem, I’d end up with two.

But with the I Ching, I could be completely honest. It has no agendas. Opening my heart to ask my questions was like talking with my True Self. Its answers rang true. Instead of tearing myself apart by warring against abuse of power, I used it to turn inward to the higher authority I could trust: my own conscience.

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The I Ching and ME

A guest blog I’ve enjoyed writing focuses on using the Book of Change to experience the difference between KNOWLEDGE (information) and KNOWING (introspection). Maintaining a balance between the two is a survival priority.

The article’s section headers include Lao Tze and the I Ching, Jung and the I Ching, and The I Ching and You.

After submitting it, this thought flashed into mind. A section was missing: The I Ching and ME. So here it is.

For me, the Book of Change is a gateway to magic. On this side, it has been a close companion, good friend and advisor through the years. On the far side, perhaps remembered from lifetimes past, it speaks to me from a place beyond time and space.

With it, I was never alone, even and especially when I was loneliest in crowded rooms. When the world impelled suicide, it brought me back to a deeper, all-pervasive love of life.

So I will share a few sections from Rethinking Survival about how I met the book, and how it has grown on me.

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First Introductions

. . . I’d had a hunch about [the I Ching] for a very long time. Ellsworth Carlson, who lived in Shansi, China during WWII, was a classmate of my parents at Oberlin College. When I was nursery school age, he bounced me on his knees at Harvard.

As Freshman student, I took Dr. Carlson’s course in Asian History at Oberlin. What stuck with me how vast an influence the I Ching had on China for 8,000 years and counting.

So, when I left the U.S., all I took with me was my violin and one small suitcase. Of that, half contained clothes. The other half held sheet music and one small book: the Legge translation of the I Ching.

It made no sense to me. I could barely get through a page or two before giving up. But I kept coming back to it. It led to something important I had to know more about.

When I happened upon the Wilhelm/Baynes edition in Düsseldorf’s International Bookshop on Konigs Allee — Finally! — I had a version I could relate to. It literally became my teacher. It gave me a whole new concept of how the world really works.

Not just this family or that institution or the other county. Not arbitrary and capricious, fluctuating fashions, but the constant anchor over time.

From it, I could deduce the fundamental energy dynamics of action and reaction which drive behavior, internally at a psychological level, and externally in relationships and day-to-day events.

It was an extension of the logic my English teacher Miss Elson impressed on my high school brain. But more. It gave me a map of logical consequences, as inevitable as computer language. “If this, then that.”

For example, If you kick people, they kick back (if they can) or otherwise resist. If you are kind, you inspire love and trust in others. If you violate natural law, nature bites back — your mental health suffers; relationships deteriorate; your behavior becomes erratic and social/physical survival is imperiled.

Asian cultures call this “the law of karma.” Its operation is also described in biblical terms: “As ye reap, so shall ye sow,” and “to everything there is a season.”

In sum, its 64 permutations map a progression of the AC-DC energy changes which constitute the natural law of repetitive, cyclical change.

Value

From my point of view, this ancient, timeless science fills a critical blind-spot in Western thinking, lacking which, all efforts are partial and incomplete. Put another way, the glaring absence of this information explains why so much goes so wrong, despite even the best of intentions on the part of politicians, priests, coaches and leaders of every ilk.

The Book of Change combines the best of many worlds. On the one hand, it’s pure logic and math. Its binary-digital code long predates both Leibniz’s calculus and computer science. On the other hand, it leads inwards, serving to link the material world of physical experience (empirical science) with its ultimate source (the realm of con-science).

Working with it, one starts with immediate, practical experience, with the option to travel with it to the opposite end of the reality scale that merges with the apparently mystical. This interactive book, regarded by some as magical, depends on the phenomena of synchronicity to link person, time and events in the decision-making process.

The longevity of ancient Chinese dynasties is attributed to sages who advised their emperors on ways to balance and thus survive historical yin-yang cycles of decay and regeneration. By working in harmony with the laws of nature, rulers succeeded in maintaining social and political stability, riding out the predictable, alternating pendulum swings between extremes.

Even the Communist Chairman Mao, an avowed atheist, owed his success to the I Ching. Its influence permeated both his moving poetry and highly successful, if unorthodox, military strategies.

When I described the many benefits of working with The Book of Change to a business consultant, she summed it up for me. “It sounds to me like the ultimate personal survival guide.” She was exactly right. So I used her description as the title of a book describing its many virtues (as well as answering the unfortunate prejudices/assumptions which have kept the book too much in the shadows).

What You See Is What You Get

The I Ching‘s value, I’ve finally come to understand, is measured by the quality of focused attention, self-honesty and positive intention with which it’s used. Those who dismiss it, who “believe” it is superstitious nonsense, fulfill their expectations. In a way, the book has its own fail-safes. Those who approach it with arrogance or evil motives get little from it.

In my case, it has provided ongoing, life-confirming support, most especially when humans failed me totally. Probably any truth book approached with concentrated attention and an open heart connects the personal mind with the guidance of the Universal Mind. Truth is timeless, so whether the catalyst that triggers inner knowing is ancient or modern doesn’t much matter.

But for me personally, working with The Book of Change is an especially powerful form of introspection. It’s a favorite mindfulness practice, if you will. Best translations link magic with science to satisfy head, heart and soul.

I admit that, as with any good friend, it took a while to break the ice and get to know it. For example, once, when I was relatively new to the book, on an early winter morning in Spring Green, I woke up with a bad feeling and consulted the I Ching for feedback. Its advice, in essence: “Don’t move. Don’t go anywhere. Anything you do now will go wrong.”

Friends were skeptical. I was scheduled for a job interview that couldn’t be missed. Even when the bald tires on my vintage Buick skidded on the ice, spinning me into a snow bank along Willow Gold Farm’s long driveway, they refused to quit. They drove up the tractor and jammed a curved metal hook under the front fender. It punctured the radiator, emptying its yellow-green fluid onto the crystal white snow.

I wasn’t going anywhere that day. Or, after their “help,” even the next.

This was definitely a book to be taken seriously!

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But enough for today. There’s much more, of course. Will have to wait for later.

History Repeats Itself – Renaissance or Another Dark Ages?

A recent post described the unfortunate end of Abelard, the medieval philosopher best known for his tragic love of Heloise.

Out of synch with his times, this celebrated cleric taught that men gain knowledge – including faith – through reason. For this, he was convicted by his monastic superiors of heresy. Abelard’s books were banned and burned. He died shortly afterwards in prison.

St. Augustine’s exclusively faith-based Rules of the Knowledge Game were balanced with Abelard’s opposite approach only after St. Aquinas harmonized the two extremes. According to the new Rules, no matter where you start, each approach leads to and reinforces the other.

This broad-based approach to knowing as a two-way street set the foundation for the flowering of arts, sciences and commerce known as the 12th Century Renaissance.

But, I suspect you’re wondering by now, is medieval history relevant NOW?

It’s highly relevant, particularly when taken in the context of patterned, repeating cycles of human behavior. Learning the basic lessons of history is an important way of leveraging the future.

Back to the 12th Century Renaissance. It was during this time of creative balance that universities evolved to replace monasteries as centers of learning.

I’ve thought about this a lot. The Origin and Future of Universities was the dissertation topic of my choice. In my proposal, I drew a bell-shaped curve that cycled above and below a median-line that represented historical times of creative balance between extremes. It looked like this:

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In the late 1970’s, when I wrote my proposal, universities were at a critical point of intersection. There was still a window of time left during which to mitigate a predictably dangerous direction of change, before a narrow window of opportunity closed.

Humanistic psychology and holistic health movements were leading the way towards another reintegration of faith and logic — a reconciliation of intuitive and rational ways of knowing. On the one hand, I held hopes that another creative renaissance was on the horizon. On the other, I foresaw the possibility that the curve would cross the median balance point and continue its downward slope, plunging the world into another dark ages of fanaticism and intolerance.

Departmental politics prevented me from writing the dissertation of my choice. (That story and its implications, however, are a different subject.) What’s pertinent here is the outcome. The window of opportunity has closed. Proof abounds. For example, during the Arab Spring, disillusioned Muslims who at first had welcomed violence as an opportunity for positive change were horrified at the repressive results. One Egyptian commented to a reporter that his country had entered a new dark age. News here and abroad continues to confirm that downward trend.

What remains are the mitigating possibilities open to I Ching users. The Chinese Book of Change keeps self-honest seekers in synch with the times, giving them survival insights and hints as to where to look for respite from the worst that might yet come. It keeps hope for the positive change we persist in holding dear to our hearts alive.

Here’s the key. Patterns codified in The Book of Change repeat on every scale of magnitude. That is to say, the same seasonal cycles repeat in an individual’s life. They also repeat in families, in the work place, in governments and even in the history of civilizations.

So even when the times are dangerously out of joint, individuals can still change for the better. So can intentional communities. So long as there’s this hope, it’s never to late. In the early dark ages, for example, monasteries were islands of hope, civility and sanity in a violent, barbaric world. Their equivalents might again serve the same purpose.

Further, personal, organizational and historical rhythms aren’t necessarily in synch. This explains why the same view is welcome at one place or time, but not in others. Abelard’s emphasis on reason, for example, would have been in synch in 17th century universities even though they were fatally out of harmony with beliefs held in the monastic circles of his day.

This information holds good or bad news, depending on whether it’s recognized and how it’s used. On one hand, acting as if personally preferred realities are fact, regardless of whether or not they’re in synch with the times, is unrealistic. For example, New-Agers who ardently believe the near future promises a widespread renaissance of human upliftment are quite probably mistaken. Worse, they may be misleading followers who will find themselves unfit and unprepared to survive in an increasingly intolerant, dark ages environment.

But on the other, positive side, it’s still possible, even as a dark age of fanaticism is gaining ground, to maintain personal balance. Personal renaissance – literally re-birth – is possible at any split second in time. Even when social trends are devolving into extremes, individuals aren’t required to forsake the ideal of personal integration just to fit in. In fact, personal and community survival may well depend on the capacity to maintain stable balance even in the most unbalanced of times.

Of a certainty, heightened, intentional balance will be essential to personal survival, even and especially as dark times cloud collective reason and threaten to extinguish faith.

Who Is Qualified to Know What – and How?

Have you ever thought about how the organizations you were born into – family, communities, governments – society in its many interdependent forms and interrelated facets – came into being? Or are you concerned about where they might now be headed?

I certainly do. Often.

Nor are we alone. Over history, serious thinkers have pondered the subject. A LinkedIn connection recently asked for my thoughts on the possible relationship between awareness and responsibility. He framed his question in the context of social contract theory.

Though initially the subject might seem academic, it’s the basic stuff of human survival. The quality of our lives – even, ultimately, our existence – depends on the level and quality of awareness leaders bring to their organizations.

In turn, their success as leaders depends on the trust, integrity and loyalty of their followers. For in fact, rights and responsibilities on both sides – leaders AND followers — are a two-way street. And when the delicate balance of expectations and obligations is violated, social fabric unravels.

contract

Yet the subject doesn’t get the serious attention it urgently deserves. The consequences of taking for granted what we have inherited, with too little awareness of dangers risked by squandering the fragile blessings we enjoy, need comprehensive rethinking NOW – before it’s too late.

I responded to the question with a LinkedIn article, “Natural Leadership or Authority – Where in the Wheel Do YOU Stand?” (See www.linkedin.com/pulse/natural-leadership-authority-where-wheel-do-you-stand-patricia-west.)

A comment on that post by Lloyd Amogan sparked this extension of the subject. With his permission, I’ll quote:

Yes, there is a relationship between social contract and awareness. The awareness has to involve both our physical levels and our Spiritual levels of Awareness/Consciousness, and not many are familiar with the Spiritual Levels, hence very few are qualified to teach.

I responded:

Your premise poses an interesting question, Lloyd. If the relationship “HAS to involve” full-spectrum awareness, yet many are NOT aware, how does lack of awareness impact of the status of the contract? Some theorize that the contract is “understood” or “implied.” Is this sufficient? What consequences follow from a lack of conscious, intentional involvement in the social contract?

An after thought, if Hobbes was unfamiliar, was he unqualified to write on the subject?

Hobbes, by the way, was famous for his view that, without the overseeing rule of a leviathan ruler, human life is necessarily “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Spiritual awareness, in his world view, was NOT a factor on either side of the leader-follower equation.

In contrast, trusted advisors to the rulers of long-lived Chinese dynasties depended on a high-level of awareness to maintain social-political stability. The Book of Change, the leadership manual upon which they depended, instills a comprehensive understanding of the human dynamics which drive social-political organizations.

The applications of the following Essay on Knowledge offer an approach to leadership awareness that might have a positive influence on the future directions of existing organizations:

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Essay 20. KNOWLEDGE

Lao Tzu believed that intuitive knowledge was the purest form of information. For that reason, he expressed his philosophy in the form of thought experiments — mental exercises designed to enhance and evolve the intuitive skills. In the Tao Te Ching, he compels us to use intuition as an equal partner with logic.” — R.L. Wing, The Tao of Power

There is a stream of transcendental, information power flowing into the DNA. . . The I CHING, which, by this hypothesis, is coincident with the DNA system, is perhaps the textbook for this cosmic force, the static tension and dynamic flux flowing into the matrix of the DNA.” — Martin Schönberger, The I Ching & The Genetic Code

Modern science tells us that the human organism is not just a physical structure made of molecules, but that, like everything else, we are also composed of energy fields. . . We, too, ebb and flow like the sea. We, too, are constantly changing. How do we, as human beings, deal with such information?” — Barbara Ann Brennan, Hands of Light

THE FRONT

Roots of knowledge mean both acknowledgment or confession, as well as to play, give, or move about. Webster’s first definition is the act, fact, or state of knowing, specifically direct acquaintance or familiarity with a fact or place.

It can mean awareness or understanding. It can mean acquaintance with the facts, range of information grasped by the mind, or enlightenment. It can mean the body of facts, principles accumulated by mankind. An archaic meaning includes carnal knowledge.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which defines the rules of knowledge at any given time/place, setting limits by its answers to these questions: What can be known, how, and by whom? Answers have political overtones, often assigning roles according to class, race, age or gender. They influence cultural decisions about the distribution of wealth, power, social status and access to legal protections.

Empirical science respects only information known through reason. Universities train students to dissect and analyze with quantitative and verbal skills. At its best, reason is a tool of constructive discernment, capable of articulating both tangible and intangible information.

With proper training, it can be used to harness the sub-rational, serve the super-rational and link the two, balancing their extremes. As such, reason is a harmonizing function.

Using reason to rule out, avoid or even demean awareness of sub- and super-rational experience is an abuse of the critical faculty.

One overlooked knowledge matrix is ingrained in our very DNA. Many striking resemblances between the structure of DNA and I Ching hexagrams suggest at least one fascinating explanation for how/why this information source resonates with inner knowing. For example, it can’t be accidental that both are both based upon a binary-quaternary code that generates a system of 64 possibilities.

The chakra system of energy transformers which traverse the spine is another knowledge matrix that affects how we process and transmit information. Each chakra filters perception. Each influences the way we interpret experience. Their existence explains how/why the inspired ideas of every religion or science change over time, being diluted and narrowed to fit the thinking of less evolved followers.

One proof of this process is the wide array of Western psychologies, each relevant to a specific chakra issue. Skinner’s is a first chakra psychology based on behavior. Freud focused on sex, a second chakra issue. Adler thought in terms of power, the third chakra. Fromm wrote about love, the fourth chakra focus. Jung was interested in literary symbols and self-actualization, which are fifth and sixth center interests.

Asian sciences, however, have recognized the interactive relationships amongst these concerns. They provide practical methods for integrating the chakras to pave an optimally functioning two-directional highway of continuous energy and information.

Chakra filters also explain why some users interpret the I Ching through the filters of the sub-rational, using it as an oracle of divination. Farmers rely on it to predict the weather and agricultural yield. Others reject such use, preferring to regard The Book of Change as a rational manual for personal improvement and professional advancement.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners refer to it as a psychological and/or medical diagnostic instrument. Still others view it as a super-rational code book, giving it spiritual interpretations. For example Taoist masters interpret it as a yogic manual detailing the alchemical process of inner transformation.

Because it encompass the whole of human experience, the I Ching actually accommodates all of these perspectives – and more.

THE BACK

Ignorance is the opposite of knowledge. It can be the innocence of an inexperienced child, or the result of being kept in the dark, deceived or misled. Some people know, but deny who they are and what they know. The social price of being different seems too high. Others fail to use love and creativity to bridge the gap between inner knowledge and outer experience, and succumb to madness.

Delusion is a perversion of knowledge. It’s a belief that things are as one wants or fears, not as they actually are; or thinking one knows everything there is to know, when one doesn’t. Untrained mediums are sometimes misguided either by their own fantasies or dark angels posing as benefactors.

Now Needed: An Army of Arjunas

Sometimes it seems the magic is gone forever from my life. All that remains is chores, living like an unwelcome fugitive, dodging the condescending cruelties of householders who bring in more money. Pretty grim.

But suddenly that changed. Today the magic is back, full force. Coming out of the blue, encouraging messages from strangers sparked me back into the writing mode.

It started this morning (Saturday, April 18. 2015) with an email notice. A recommendation had been voluntarily added to my [now cancelled] LinkedIn profile. “Insightful, ground breaking, immensely important.”

Shortly afterwards, a delightful, koan-like message (re: Humanity) appeared: “Very acknowledgeable am smiling please carry on.”

That me jolted out of my funk. After thanking these messengers of the Universe (no naming names, so as not to offend anyone), I continued, responding to overlooked messages I earlier hadn’t had the heart to answer. One simply said, “Hey Patricia, Thanks for the new post.”

Another wrote, “Patricia, Good morning, I trust you are doing well. Take good care.”

After that, I checked an abandoned blog site to see how old friends are faring there. I was delighted to find a post from an earlier commenter whom I thought I’d offended beyond repair. Resonance with my work showed he’s following through in his own way. He wrote:

We tend to miss that our immediate environment is part of a much bigger ecosystem whose dynamics and ramifications extend far beyond our limited grasp of space and time.

Though delighted, I kept my response short: Well said. Agreed. : )

But I still had questions about writing. If I should I continue, in what in direction? I’ve been stuck on the topic of intentional communities, which has stalled on the drawing board for months. The content continues to elude me. Outlines only generate more questions.

Further, one LinkedIn connection who’s now occupied elsewhere rejected the topic, assuming communism is what I have in mind. (No way!) Another connection with enormous potential to do great good has taken a different direction, choosing to engage in a family-run start-up.

I considered listing my doubts and inviting comments. But that didn’t click either.

So now, in thinking about the “interesting” timing of encouraging emails, I remembered that today – April 18th – – is a new moon, traditionally associated with new beginnings. Before checking for a description of the day’s potential, I “knew” I should first consult my old, best friend, the Book of Change.

That’s when the magic kicked in big time.

Granted that the I Ching (especially useful as a vehicle for entering the fourth dimension of time-space where synchronicity comes into play) is outside the comfort zone of some professionals. Nevertheless, please stay with me. After all, it has also been the enduring, practical foundation of leadership training in Asian cultures for many thousands of years – with good reason.

Be that as it may, I queried for direction. The resulting hexagram COMMUNITY was directly to the point of my concern. The CSBOC reading for #13 is:

IC 13

A changing line in the second place reinforced the concluding warning against selfishness: Avoid special interest groups. Selfish and corrupt motives bring downfall.

The resultant change, were the warning heeded, is #1 – CREATIVE POWER, which further reinforces the text.

The changing line in the fourth place reads: If you have become isolated, understand why and correct yourself.

This warning line pin-points a major problem. If heeded, the resultant change would result in # 37 – FAMILY, the cornerstone of community. I take the concluding warning very personally: Avoid roles not suited to your nature.

This returns full circle to my immediate dilemma. As a writer, my topic – the uncertainty of human survival – puts me in the role of a Cassandra relative to the larger, defiantly oblivious society. Being the messenger of an unpopular warning, though it seems my calling, can be isolating, not to mention unrewarding. It results in lifestyle issues with no immediate solutions in sight.

Nevertheless, I persist in believing that as increasingly more people find themselves in desperate social and economic straits, readiness will increase and my time eventually will come. The funding needed to support the intentional communities I envision will eventually materialize.

The situation reminds me of the dilemma faced by the warrior-charioteer Arjuna in the Bhadavad Gita. Those who opposed him were corrupt relatives, which posed a great conflict. Was it morally right to take sides against family, even if they were in the wrong? Forced to make an apparently no-win choice was paralyzing. On the battlefield, overwhelmed, he put down his weapons and refused to fight.

But at this crisis and turning point, his chariot driver, Lord Krsna, revealed his true identity. With inspirational encouragement, he encouraged the warrior to take heart, stand firm and win the righteous battle against evil.

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Similarly, the communities which timeless scriptures encourage, of which Einstein wrote, and of which I am thinking, are not based on biological or even cultural kindred, but rather on resonance of heart and mind. Communities connecting kindred souls, if you will. And in this, the exceedingly dangerous times in which we live hold magical seeds of opportunity. From Two Sides of a Coin:

Whereas most rulers suffer the unanticipated consequences of ignorance, pride and greed as shock, humiliation and undoing, sages intentionally harness the forces of nature to positive ends. Thus it is, that throughout history, at the right time, in the necessary circumstances, leaders of ordinary and humble beginnings have catapulted to extraordinary levels of accomplishment, effecting broad political and social change.

By voicing the collective yearnings of the suffering masses, perennial sage-leaders shed the light of eternal hope on times of greatest darkness. By inspired words and living example, they recreate ever-new the Gita’s vision of opportunities hidden within the outward experience of hardship.

For as sages know, “when social degeneration reaches critical mass, regeneration follows.” From Passage 78 of the Tao Te Ching:

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Returning to this morning’s magical COMMUNITY reading: another next bend in the road occurred. Surprisingly, the changing lines combine to produce a most inauspicious outcome: # 9 – FRUSTRATION, which begins:

External factors you may not even be aware of will cause FRUSTRATION. New projects will not work out now. . . Your choice is either to wait patiently or to leave the situation.

It concludes by advising, Avoid major commitments.

So, turning to what I saved for last, I asked, What is the nature of the frustration in building intentional communities? The answer, when I checked the astrological description of today’s new moon was this. Timing. Major planets of communication and reform are currently going into hibernation, so to speak. Retrograde.

According to the calendar, the correct decision for me personally is to wait until the end September and into October. For the time being, continue to patiently endure unavoidable frustrations.

For others, for many other reasons, there will be other choices. What is consistent across the board is that building effective intentional communities will depend on an army of Arjunas, each of whom listens to the inner voice of conscience represented by Lord Krsna rather than to the dictates of their particular biological families or immediate social, political and religious prejudices.

Sometimes I wish I could win the largest lottery in history, as if that would end current frustrations. Yet I know bringing in money that way cannot solve the deeper problems. It would not influence hearts or minds, persuade the public of the wisdom needed to ensure human survival. For this, patience is required. So it is no accident that first three letters of PATIENCE are also the first letters of my name.

Today’s magic provided the immediate encouragement now needed to keep writing . . . balanced with acceptance of long-term timing. May my telling of it encourage fellow Arjunas-in-waiting, those who also will, when the time is right, God-willing, be ready to build on common ground.

Where Is the Unity in COMM-UNITY?

Working with words mindfully is an interesting challenge.

For example, have you ever wondered about the names United States and United Nations? Why did Founders choose to describe their country as United? United on what levels and in what way(s)? By common principles? Common interests, commitments, or vision for the future?

What did charter members of the international organization intend by using the same word, United? Pursuing common goals, pooling resources and/or standing firm against common dangers? Does the word hold the same meaning today as it did earlier? What does it mean now, and to whom? Does United mean the same thing to insider elites as to the rest of us? Why does this matter?

The use of the word United is ironic with overtones of tragedy, given the current fragmented and contentious condition of both entities.

It part, current problems were inherent from inception, a consequence of failing to be philosophically correct in foundations. This single picture shows wherein unity can truly be found, and where not.

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Looking for unity in the wrong places was fraught with potentially dangerous consequences which are still bearing poisonous fruit today.

It’s especially important to rethink the meaning of Unity in the context of building intentional communities, for the chain of individuals bound together by common purpose is no stronger than its weakest link. The foundation of viable, sustainable communities begins with the integrity of each participating member.

The following Essay from Conscience provides food for thought along these lines. It offers a holistic perspective on unity, both within and without. This comprehensive view offers a useful understanding for building effective communities, as well as diagnosing past failures experienced as a consequence of limited vision and follow-through.

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Essay 60. UNITY

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. — Martin Luther King, Jr., The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The scientist or the artist takes two facts or experiences which we separate; he finds in them a likeness which had not been seen before: and he creates a unity by showing the likeness. . . . All science is the search for unity in hidden likenesses. — Jacob Bronowski, quoted by Todd Siler in Think Like a Genius

I have always felt that one of the simplest and most apt metaphors for an organization as complex as the United Nations is the Rorschach inkblot test. What one person sees as the hope of a world free of war, famine, poverty, and disease, another interprets as a global boondoggle comprised of uncaring civil servants threatening the cherished concept of state sovereignty. — James Holtje, Divided It Stands: Can the United Nations Work

THE FRONT

The Latin root of “unity” means oneness. Webster’s first definition is the state of being one, or united; oneness, singleness. It means something complete in itself, single, or separate. It can be the quality of being one in spirit, sentiment, purpose; harmony, agreement or concord. In contrast, it can also mean uniformity.

It can refer to an arrangement of parts or material in a work of art or literature that produce a single, harmonious effect. It can refer to constancy, continuity, or fixity of purpose or action.

The difference amongst these definitions reflects a general cultural confusion as to the optimal relationship of the individual to nature, society, and their creative Source. Effective, consistent action depends on an integrated concept of self and a comfortable relationship of each part with the whole. Therefore, thinking carefully about what unity means — as well as what it doesn’t — is a necessary prelude to ultimate success in life.

Accepting the I Ching view that accomplishments begin with the smallest unit, unity is first to be attained within. It’s common to say, “My mind’s not made up” or “Get it together.” The familiar saying, “The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing,” could also be phrased, “The left brain doesn’t know what the right brain is doing.”

When Westerns say, “I’m of two minds on this,” it reflects confusion, ambivalence or lack of discipline. However, the martial arts advice to have eight brains and eight hearts refers to the height of attainment. It suggests ability to intentionally shift internal gears to meet any situation. From the totality of unified mind, the ideal I Ching master focuses from above while acting through each of the energy centers according the immediate need at the time.

According to the MPI Standard, the Motive, the WHY of psychologies and meditative practices is the same: to unify fragmented, antagonistic functions of mind, personality and behavior.

The Purpose, the HOW they accomplish this is diverse. Some practices start from the outside with behavior and work inwards. Others start with the mind, ideas and attitudes, and work outwards. Still others work on both simultaneously, which is possible in comm-unities where work and self-awareness training go hand-in-glove.

The Intent, the WHAT, ranges from personal self-mastery to inner peace and/or functional relationships.

As pictured above, in a holistic world view, external diversity complements inner unity. The core of life’s concentric circles, like the hub of a wheel, remains still as the outer rim revolves, constantly changing and in motion. Meridians, like spokes of a wheel, link center to surface, connecting and organizing the Wheel of Life in a dynamic unity.

It hardly matters how the goal of inner unity is attained. Once one is focused and all the facets of inner energy are coordinated by a single-minded purpose, the pieces of life’s mosaic fall into place, forming a coherent picture. Then life becomes a work of art, like a poem or a song.

Albert Einstein — equal parts musician, philosopher, physicist and world citizen — searched lifelong for a Unified Theory. The Book of Change embodies the universal code he sought. We’ve failed to recognize the clues hidden for centuries in a venerable text that have the potential to lead us to solutions desperately needed NOW. Restoring this treasure to the general culture would provide a fully functional paradigm from which positive, life-sustaining results can be generated across-the-board.

THE BACK

Regimentation and conformance are perversions of unity. Nature flourishes in diversity. Like snowflakes, each individual is a unique variation of its kind. Yet, in extreme social contexts, variations are suppressed and punished. While this unnatural state might be appropriate to unnatural situations like war, it’s antithetical to personal well-being.

Technically, because all things are connected, it’s possible to dabble in the dark worlds of demons and departed souls. However, though these realms do exist, it is dangerously unwise to explore them without a specific, positive purpose (“know the enemy”) and a white magician’s guidance.

Rethinking COMMUNITY

For years now, the same familiar pattern repeats. Whenever I decide I’m finished with writing, something comes along to make me rethink my decision. Two such events triggered today’s post. One was a thought-provoking article, “Mindfulness, Behavior and Social Change” by Mark Leonard, Director/Mindfulness Trainer at the Oxford’s Mindfulness Exchange.

I responded with a question: I’ve often thought about the possibility of building intentional communities, despite the evidence that experiments in the past have not always worked out well. Any thoughts on the subject?

In fact, I had mentally sketched but not followed-through on an article about intentional communities based on my connection with Spring Green and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship. It was an example which, for many important reasons, I would not recommend following.

He replied: I suspect an intentional community needs a suite of conditions including contemporary analogs of functions which hold traditional societies together. I think that mindfulness meditation could play a part here.

The basic axioms listed in The Positive Paradigm Handbook are my recommended contribution to this cohesive foundation. They were fatally lacking in the Spring Green experiment.

Coincidently, these axioms were the reason for accepting an invitation from Swami Narasimhananda to submit an article to Prabuddha Bharata, a journal devoted to the social sciences and humanities started by Swami Vivekananda and in continuous publication since 1896.  [See When Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW? ]

Timing being everything, I had decided a few hours earlier to list them there in the context of rethinking leadership, family and community based on timeless wisdom traditions.

My interest is based on the observation made in The Age of Heretics (Charles Krone) that when chaos enveloped the civilized European world, monasteries appeared during the dark ages as islands of purposeful community — centers of learning, healing and hospitality. Similarly, monasteries of refuge from barbarism appeared in Asian lands during particularly harsh historical times.

This dynamic seems highly relevant today, for, as Mark Leonard details in his article, the world is surely sinking into another dark ages. Intentional communities may once again become the necessary counter-balance of positive change — the means for ensuring human survival, which, as Einstein warned us, can no longer be taken for granted.

So for starters, from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, here are my original thoughts on community. It forms a hopeful basis for rethinking intentional communities. Although my frame of reference for thinking about the dynamics of change is the Chinese Book of Change, resonance with the immediately popular mindfulness movement will be immediately apparent.

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Essay 14. COMMUNITY

We can create communities and relationships that are based on love and intimacy rather than fear and hatred. We can learn from the suffering of others. Awareness is the first stage in healing. . . Likewise, we can create a new model of medicine as we move into the next century that is more competent and cost-effective as well as being more caring and compassionate.” — Dean Ornish, Love and Survival

As we accept the smallness of the world, the density of the population, and the myriad influences on individuals and families, someday we may recognize the community and even the whole society as the patient. Imagine, then, what a “doctor of society” might do, what kinds of diseases he or she might treat!” — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole.” – Pythagoras, quoted in The Healing Power of Sound 

THE FRONT

Community stems from a root word meaning fellowship. In English, the word refers to all the people living in a particular district or city. It can also mean a group of people living together as a smaller social unity within a larger one, and having interests or work in common, such as a college community.

Alternatively, it can refer to a group of nations loosely or closely associated because of common traditions or for political and economic advantage. It also covers similarity of tastes and preferences. The last definition Webster’s gives is the condition of living with others in friendly association and fellowship. The last definition has come full circle back to original meaning.

Communities are founded on a common cause. It can be as practical as survival or idealistic as freedom. Often, community cohesion is artificially stimulated by fear and hatred of a common enemy. Hitler inflamed passions against Jews and foreign bankers to mobilize his war-weary country into a second world war even more devastating than the first. Then Americans rallied behind the common goal of defeating enemies of democracy on two fronts, Asia and Europe.

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote about the relationship of divine, natural and human law in a way that inspired readers at the time of the American Revolution to fight for freedom from tyranny. Winning that war did not, however, automatically secure freedom for all times. Democracy isn’t a static achievement that can be passed on unchanged from one generation to the next. It must renewed and earned again, one individual at a time, each generation at a time, continuously redefined in the context of immediate circumstances.

Nor can the structures of American-style democracy be imposed by force, whole, from the outside, on peoples whose beliefs are shaped by vastly different cultural influences. It is the common respect of life and liberty, not external forms, which is universally translatable. The music of life that moves every organization, smallest to largest, is the basis of harmonious fellowship. Approaching natural law and social organizations from the deeper understanding of the ancients could inspire a new, more humane and effective approach to international relations now, one based timeless values which the human community shares in common.

Sages say that freedom from tyranny begins with dispelling ignorance and overcoming negative emotions. True freedom and stable communities begin with the self-awareness and self-mastery which can be gained by diligent use of wisdom tools like the I Ching. First remembering the core of compassion and caring within, we can then extend and expand this good-will into healing society as well.

Put another way, it’s useless to fight for a democratic world before one cleans out the inner swamp of negative emotions. Since inner life projects into external experience, fighting tyranny in the turmoil of anger and hatred reaps results in kind. Therefore, working to establish positive community relationships before attitudes of good-will and willing self-discipline are established is a futile exercise. As Covey reminds us, first things must come first.

Conversely, the more individuals free themselves from personal problems, the more they become open to the calling to community and able to play their part in the harmony of the natural whole.

THE BACK

Street gangs, terrorist groups, religious cults and secret societies are subgroups within the larger community. To the extent that their goals oppose and even endanger the community at large, these organizations are antithetical to the general good.

Pariahs, nomads and outcasts [heretics!] are individuals excluded from society, either voluntarily or by edict. Whether justified or not, their attitudes and behavior are out of harmony with accepted norms. If enough of them find common cause to band together, they form alternative groups which become the foundation of new communities.

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Rethinking COMMUNICATION

The following essay from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide is an appropriate companion to the article just posted on LinkedIn, “True Leaders Trust Their Inner Compass To Overcome Confusion.” It opens with a question:

When others use the same word to mean different things, how do effective leaders bridge the gap to communicate clearly? If you’d like to see the rest, here’s the link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/true-leaders-trust-inner-compass-overcome-confusion-patricia-west?trk=prof-post

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Essay 32. COMMUNICATION

He who is learning to paint must first learn to still his heart, thus to clarify his understanding and increase his wisdom.” — The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting, quoted by R.L. Wing.

Painting in China made it possible to manipulate the veil of appearances so that it might be pulled away to reveal the hidden essentials of reality and lead the observer into an experience approaching ‘truth.’ Both art and the I Ching employ a triggering device that makes conscious that which has been buried in our unconscious.” R.L. Wing, The Illustrated I Ching. 

“My pen is my bokken, sword of discrimination, ruthless as it follows certain lines of thought onto the page and ignores others into nonexistence. My pen gives life or death to words. My pen cuts through partial truths, slashes weak verbs, and sparring and paring, uncovers a rare, gemlike image. . . As my mind’s chatter settles ever more deeply, my pen can follow a thought like a bee tracking nectar.” — Connie Zweig, Becoming a Warrior Writer

THE FRONT

Roots of communicate suggest sharing, to make common. Webster’s defines communication as the act of transmitting, giving or exchanging information. The means can include signals, gestures, and writing as well as speaking. The word is also used to describe the means of information changing hands, such telephone, telegraph, radio, or other systems. It’s also used to describe routes for moving troops and materials. In the arts, it connotes expressing ideas and sentiments. In mathematics and science, it includes symbols.

The definition has no shadings of meaning to indicate the multitude of verbal and non-verbal levels of information exchange, acknowledging a broad spectrum spanning cellular synaptic connections and inarticulate body language on one extreme to non-local, telepathic messaging (ESP) at the other. The definition of communication also lacks nuances that indicate motives for communicating, or whether information shared is complete or accurate.

Bad-faith extremists babel. They intentionally miss each other coming and going. Seemingly powerful extroverts (extreme-yang aggressors or oppressors) abuse communication tools as overt weapons of propaganda, intimidation and subordination. Speech is used to overpower and control. Seemingly helpless introverts (extreme-yin targets or victims) use language (along with silence) as covert weapons of self-protection or retaliation. Words are used to placate, distract or mislead.

In The More You Watch the Less You Know, TV veteran Danny Schechter observes that there’s a media war going on to win the hearts and minds of viewers. It’s going on in education too. Insiders disempower people with the potential to threaten empire-building plans by feeding them partial information piece-meal. Potential leaders are co-opted by rewarding them for knowing more and more about less and less, calling the outcome “expertise.” The right hand/brain can’t know what the left is doing.

It takes cooperative interdisciplinary work, linking not only related academic specialties, but also the levels of law, to discover solutions to apparently unsolvable economic/social/political conundrums. The most essential community-building service sincere leaders can provide is the dissemination of accurate, hopeful information that promotes positive action. As people of good-will intentionally transcend extremes, cultivating balanced mesovert communication skills, they are developing a base of values shared in common, along with means for connecting to share vital information.

Especially in the arts, however, it isn’t the writer who inspires. Words are just catalysts. They precipitate inner knowing, causing it to rise to the surface of conscious awareness. It’s the result of synchronicity. When the writer, reader, time and topic are in synch, then, Bingo! There’s a connection — communication.

THE BACK

The opposite of communication is silence, the absence of giving and/or receiving information. In a social context, ignoring others is a sign of mistrust or disrespect, a denial of their value, trustworthiness or sincerity. In meditation, however, silence in the inner sanctuary of the mind is the respectful attitude of receptive humility. In this context, cessation of dialogue is prelude to at-oneness.

A perversion of communication is cacophony. The overwhelming amount of data now available from an increasing number of sources causes information overload. City streets and public places are filled with loud, harsh noises that shatter the nervous system. This extreme causes the mind to shut down in self-protection.

Rethinking HOPE

New years are traditionally welcomed as a harbinger of fresh hope and the opportunity for new beginnings. In these perilous times, I have searched my heart for the most realistic approach to fulling the eternal hope for love, unity and survival which everyone everywhere shares in common – a way that acknowledges escalating world challenges while balancing them with their inherent potential for renewal.

Because it rings true as the vision of realistic hope, I have chosen to return to this simple essay, written in the year 2000, included in Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide.

May your New Year be filled with the blessings of your dearest heart’s desire.

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ESSAY 63. HOPE

Ephesians

Here the people could stand it no longer and complained of the long voyage; but the Admiral cheered them as best he could, holding out the good hope of the advantages they would have. He added that it was useless to complain, he had come [to go] to the Indies, and so had to continue it until he found them, with the help of Our Lord.  — Christopher Columbus, Journal of the First Voyage

We live at a particularly perilous moment, one in which self-deception is a subject of increasing urgency. The planet itself faces a threat unknown in other times: its utter destruction. . . The splitting of the atom, said Einstein, has changed everything, save how we think. And thus, he observed, “we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” — Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths

We are seeing a health care system in pain, people in pain, and a world in pain. I believe that something can be done to make it better. — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

THE FRONT

Webster’s defines hope as a feeling that what is wanted will happen. It is a desire accompanied by expectation. It can mean that which one has a hope for. It can mean a reason for hope. A meaning listed as archaic is to trust or rely.

In I Ching context, hope transcends short-sighted wishing and emotional wanting. It is a trust that one has the wherewithal to respond appropriately to every change of fortune. It’s not total self-sufficiency, but awareness that one’s efforts are met half way. When one does the best one can, the rest is supplied in the right way, at the right time.

Daniel Goleman emphasizes the direct relationship between honest self-awareness and survival. Like Einstein and like Strauss & Howe (authors of The Fourth Turning), Goleman is a messenger of awareness we’re often trained to block out. His vision is in synch with The Book of Change philosophy in this: ignoring dangers, deceiving ourselves that all is well when it isn’t, doesn’t make problems go away. It only renders us powerless to recognize early warning signals in time to prepare and ameliorate the worst that might come.

In The Fourth Turning, Strauss and Howe emphasize that declining resources will necessitate major changes in healthcare delivery. Anticipating that the cost of health-care will continue to rise and become increasingly unaffordable, they recommend that cost-effective, affordable alternatives be in put in place now. Forward-looking health practitioners are therefore now turning to inexpensive, preventive self-maintenance practices like Tai Chi, Qigong and yoga.

There are hidden benefits to timely austerities. Though it is unfortunate that people see fit to return back to self-responsible methods only as a last resort, if the prospect of hard times returns people back to their more simple and beneficial roots, it serves as a blessing in disguise.

In his epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote of hope in the context of faith and charity. His hope isn’t Webster’s hope of wanting and expecting. Like I Ching hope, it is trust that human events which make no sense in the short-term fit into the larger pattern of life, and that God’s will does in the long-term prevail.

THE BACK

The opposite of hope is despair. Seeing one’s situation as hopeless is a self-fulfilling prophecy. So long as one places hope in externals, one feeds the illusion of powerlessness. Turning the focus of hope inwards makes all the difference.

Self-deception is a perversion of hope. Lacking a concept of cyclical change, linear thinkers hope to control time. They defy the aging process or pretend change can’t or hasn’t happened rather than adjusting and benefiting from new opportunities that arise to replace the ones which pass away.

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Authentic Friends Are Rare & Precious

 

 

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When I asked myself what I’m most grateful for this Thanksgiving season, a recent walk through the Hill Top woods in Spring Green, Wisconsin instantly came to mind. Sunny but crisply cool, the fall weather was perfect. Colorful turning leaves were at their brilliant best.

I hadn’t seen long-time friend Janelle Fritz for thirty years and counting. But it could have been yesterday. Authentic friends are like that.

Why did we come together again now? Long story.

On the surface, the catalyst was a note I sent while she and husband Ty were still wintering in Arizona. I had expressed my thanks to his father, Herb Fritz, in the dedication of Rethinking Survival, I told her. Further, in the autobiographical section, I wrote about his being the sole survivor and witness of the 1914 Taliesin massacre, as well as about performing string trios at Hill Top with Herb and his sister, Frances Caraway. I wanted Ty and Janell to know about the dedication first, from me.

On that October day, there was much catching up to do. Words came easily on both sides, punctuated, of course, by spontaneous bear hugs.

I was fascinated to find out that she too is a good friend of the I Ching. Or perhaps, better put, the Book of Change has been a good friend to her. Like me, she has repeatedly turned to the Wilhelm/Baynes edition over the years to survive seriously challenging, tough times. It has served to keep her pointed steadfastly towards her inner True North.

Though I never doubted the outcome, still I rejoiced to see that she’s weathered her personal storms wonderfully and has become even better for them. It’s apparent that this tiny woman (even smaller in size that I am) is the true backbone of her family. And I said so! (Sometimes it helps to hear it from a friend.)

Since our walk, I’ve been reading Bill George’s books, including True North and Authentic Leadership. They describe Janelle to a Tee. She’s centered in her True North. In direct, simple terms, she’s an exemplary authentic leader. Her beliefs, words and actions are consistent across the board. She’s devoted to her family, becaring not only Ty, their sons and now grandchildren (WOW!), but also her sprightly mother-in-law, Eloise Fritz, who’s now 89 years-old.

Janelle was a dancer. In Arizona, she told me, she owned and ran a dance studio. Like Eloise before her, who ran a girls camp at Hill Top, Jan’s purpose was to encourage and bring out the best in young women. Horse riding and dance were incidental to the deeper, soul purpose of their businesses.

We both, Janelle and I, have given up our early avocations. She couldn’t understand, at first, how I could give up music. It was only when I explained it in terms of her releasing the dance studio that she recognized the common thread.

I explained the change in I Ching terms. “The larger the front, the larger the back.” And “Every extreme turns into its opposite.” The benefits – the front side – of the music were enormous. As a child, I lived and breathed in continuous joy. Immersed in music, I was shielded from the dark side of living in a dysfunctional family on a dysfunctional planet.

Music taught me many important life lessons. As Einstein observed, discipline learned through violin practice came much easier than it would have through harsh obligation. Playing in string ensembles and orchestras was a model for cooperation as well as for following the single lead of a conductor.

Music eventually led me, via Menhuin students, to yoga, complimentary medicine, and the scriptures which teach methods for actualizing the Unified Theory reformulated by Einstein. Like every discipline studied with love, focus on music led me deeper, first to the physics and then to the origins and mysteries of sound.

Sufi Inayat Kahn, the great sarod player, explained how this can be. In Music, he wrote:

The art of music has been especially considered divine, because it is the exact miniature of the law working through the whole universe. For instance, if we study ourselves we shall find that the beats of the pulse and the heart, the inhaling and exhaling of the breath, are all the work of rhythm. Life depends upon the rhythmic working of the whole mechanism of the body. Breath manifests as voice, as word, as sound; and the sound is continually audible, the sound without and the sound within ourselves.

Inayat Khan became a role model. As a teacher and author, he himself became the instrument. From his example, I recognized that, like him, I had to give up that which I loved most, my brown-blond,1776 Mathias Thier violin, to go beyond it.

It was necessary because the back of the coin was as great as the front. Over time, the blessing had changed into its opposite. Once the lessons had been learned, holding on to their vehicle would have held me back. I was not only shielded. I had become oblivious to the rest of the world and the responsibility to serve. Music had become an addiction and an obstacle to further, necessary growth.

But, as Janelle was quick to point out, Nothing is ever lost. Only changed. Everything cultivated as a musician is now funneled into the writing. I’ve become the instrument of the ideas that kept me focused True North even during confusing, difficult times. Now I weave in the music of language using the medium of a computer keyboard.

Similarly, Janelle and Ty have dedicated their Hill Top inheritance from Herb and Eloise to building a community center where people gather to honor the passages of their lives. They come to celebrate weddings and return to commemorate their milestones, including anniversaries. Life continues to evolve. We change, yet the True North of constant friendship remains the same.

For that I am abundantly, infinitely grateful.

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Survival Basics We Didn’t Learn in School – But Should Have!

Thinking – really thinking – about way the world works and how we fit into it is essential to human survival. This, in large part, depends upon careful, conscious use of the primary tools of logic and language.

Digging deeper than programmed assumptions to understand what we truly mean is one of the basic skills we never learned in school, but should have! Being able to clearly express our concerns and insights is equally important.

This includes knowing the precise definitions of words – how we intend them, as well as the many ways they can be misconstrued by others who use them differently.

Each of the 64 Essays in Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide addresses the Tower of Babel dilemma, where it’s shown that the words we use every day have devolved to mean one thing as well as their opposites. Each Essay highlights the many different meanings assigned to a single, key concept in the English language. Each then focuses on the word’s use in the context of the natural law encoded in the Chinese I Ching.

Westerners, for the most part, remain ignorant of the order implicit in dynamic natural law, as well as the critically important, two-way role it serves as the “middle man” gatekeeper between human and divine law. We suffer the adverse consequences of this blind spot in every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, even many urban, “modern” Asians seem to have become disconnected from their wisdom roots.

The following is one example: the word ORDER.

As with each of other 64 key terms, its meaning is illuminated by placing gradations within the levels of the Life Wheel. The first principle of Dr. Kushi’s “Principles of Order of the Universe” acknowledges the ONE which resides at the timeless center hub of the Wheel. Infinity is represented by its creative extension process, with its alternating, rhythmic expansions and contractions. The outline below could be expanded and elaborated upon in volumes, and still barely touch the surface of the implications.

Forthcoming blogs will elaborate on the basic principles of universal order which we should have learned as the basics in school and need to know NOW, as an urgent matter of survival.

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29. ORDER

Principles of the Order of the Universe:

1. Everything is a differentiation of ONE Infinity.

2. Everything changes.

3. All antagonisms are complementary.

4. There is nothing identical.

5. What has a front has a back.

6. The bigger the front, the bigger the back.

7. What has a beginning has an end.

8. Nothing is solely yin or solely yang.

9. There is nothing neutral.

10. Large yin attracts small yin. Large yang attracts small yang.

11. Extreme yin produces yang, and extreme yang produces yin.

12. All physical manifestations are yang at the center and yin at the surface.

— Michio Kushi, Natural Healing through Macrobiotics

In the secure, high-synergy societies, wealth gets spread around, it gets siphoned off from the high places down to the low places. It tends, one way or another, to go from rich to poor, rather than from poor to rich.  — Abraham H. Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature

When evil men plot, good men must plan. . . When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice. — Martin Luther King, Jr., The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

THE FRONT

Roots of order mean straight, row, or regular series. The first of Webster’s seventeen definitions is a social position or rank in the community. Order means a state of peace or serenity, observance of the law, or orderly conduct. It can refer to the sequence or arrangement of things or events, a series, succession. [As in, “Order in the court room!” or “It’s time to put your affairs in order.”]

Order can refer to a fixed or definite place, system or law of arrangement. It can refer to a group or class of persons set off from others by some trait or quality. It can mean a group of persons constituting an association formed for some special purpose, like the Order of Knights Templars, or a community of monks or nuns following a rule.

Order can refer to a group of persons distinguished for having received a certain award or citation. Order can mean a general state, as in “not in working order.” It can mean a command, direction or instruction, usually backed by authority. It can mean an established method or system, as of conduct or action in meetings or worship. It can be a request or commission to make or supply something, such an order for merchandise or services.

In I Ching context, order refers to the sequence in which straight and divided lines are placed in the three-line trigrams which represent the eight building blocks of nature. Alchemical interactions amongst these primal natural forces are mapped by pairing trigrams in every possible combination. The 64 six-line hexagrams which result are placed in ordered matrices, sometimes encompassed by a circle. Different sages place these figures in different order with different effect.

However, any or all of the lines within each six-line configuration can change to its opposite. So the myriad possibilities inherent in any circumstance have the potential to shift in an infinite number of directions.

The implication (and opportunity) is this: Despite appearances, nothing within a given situation is static, nor can the fluid, dynamic permutations of change be controlled or foreseen. Put another way, those who understand how to work with the laws of change can use them to advantage, accepting that no situation, no matter how dire, is either hopeless or without useful possibilities. Order lies in the process, not immediate specifics.

Cutting edge physicists continue to probe the order of the universe. In The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene builds on violinist Einstein’s vision, describing the string theory which “can heal the breach between gravity and quantum, unifying all of nature’s ingredients.” His book is recommended to those who “want to get a real appreciation for the amazing miracle that the universe is.”

The I Ching is recommended for the same reasons. Its advantage over modern physics is first that it is time-tested and proven, second that its careful use over time can bring abstract intellectual theories closer to home, making them applicable to immediate, practical concerns. For it is only with a profound understanding of how the world works, that these dynamics can be applied to establish communities like those envisioned by Maslow and King, where equity and justice prevail.

THE BACK

In biblical context, the shadow side of order is chaos, the primordial state which predates manifest creation. This is different from the chaos physicists study, which refers to turmoil or dynamic instability within which humans have not yet recognized inherent order.

In social context, rigid caste structures based on blood lines or material possessions are perversions of the dynamic natural order. Pigeon-holing or excluding people by race, age, gender or economic status is a competitive strategy; it has nothing to with inherent divine order, human potentials or functional competence.